Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
My very first Yash Chopra film was a disappointment.
I remember watching “Lamhe” as a kid, almost without blinking, on a grainy television screen on a newfangled device called the VCR and thinking to myself, what is this story about? To my young mind, it didn’t make much sense. But the memory of “Lamhe” and that lazy summer afternoon I watched it with my cousins is still vividly etched.
Of course, it took years for me to actually “get” the film and what it was trying to say. For an Indian film-maker to explore a theme as bold as that of a woman falling in love with her mother’s lover was brave, and to pull it off as he did, spoke volumes of his control over his craft.
Since then, I have watched almost all of Chopra’s films, and I must confess, unlike the majority of movie-goers who automatically seem to associate him with the Swiss Alps, women cavorting in the snow in chiffon sarees and typical Bollywood romance, for me, he will always be the man who dared to tell love stories that were different, twisted and complicated, something Bollywood shies off from, even today.
We still have the hero picking the “good” Indian girl over the “free-spirited” girl (“Cocktail“) in 2012, but Chopra made a movie about an extra-marital affair in the 70s and handled it with much sensitivity despite the heavy baggage that came attached with “Silsila“.